I knew Lindsay Durrenburger long before I met her in real life. As she mentions here, she was a good friend of my brother. Like most good things in life, I connected with her because my brother said, ‘You need to do this.’
Our first real conversation came via a phone call while I was strolling the streets of Chicago. I was there for a conference, and that meeting paled in comparison to the giddy joy of our first dialogue. Since that time I’ve been with her in person only once, but she’s pretty much a member of the family in spirit. Lindsay writes at Fueled By Diet Coke (moms with small children, read the post she called Their First Love…grab a Kleenex first…) She is a gifted writer and storyteller. Her honesty and vulnerability puts profound truth in the world.
That’s a good thing.
Here’s Lindsay’s response to my request regarding a record of influence. Like the woman herself, it’s packed with spiritual insight and authenticity. I’m grateful to her – for this, and for being part of my world.
“The thing is, Lindsay, you think in people.”
I can’t remember the circumstances surrounding my husband’s revelation about my default disposition, but it’s completely true – I think in people. Whenever we recall past experiences, he’ll say things like, “Do you remember that one time that we tried out that new hotdog place?” And I’ll reply with something like, “Yeah, and we ran into So-And-So and their kids and talked about the new school they’re starting in the fall?” And then he’ll stare blankly at me, his eyes inquiring, HOW IN THE HECK DID YOU REMEMBER THAT, YOU PSYCHO.
I just can’t help it. It’s how I do life. The people around me at any given time will define every thing that happens in my life. Relationships don’t just matter to me; they are everything.
A few (ahem, just a few) years ago, I graduated high school, moved to Tallahassee, Florida, for college and started attending a church where I would end up meeting one of the most important people to me – Beth’s brother Eric. She’s blogged about him a time or two before, so you probably already feel like you know him.
But you don’t know me. And you don’t know me the way Eric knows me.
Eric is the Pastor of Musical Worship at that church. For several years I had the privilege of playing keys in his band, despite the fact that his musicianship far (far, far, far, far, far…far… far…) exceeds mine. It was under Eric’s leadership that I really grew and matured as a musician, Christian, and (most importantly, probably) an overall human. Unfortunately for him, though, that meant enduring countless coffee meetings and rehearsals in which I was a cacophonous mess of baggage and insecurity, but apparently never scary enough to frighten him away. Over time, Eric got to fully know me and love me, despite everything about me, and after a particularly embarrassing lunch at Red Lobster (I never went back as long as I lived in Tallahassee because it was that bad) he actually volunteered to became a father figure to me; he voluntarily applied for the position that was vacated by my biological dad nearly two decades ago, knowing full well the hot mess he was adopting. Seriously. Eric adopting me was kind of like him buying a car that doesn’t run but DOES make really good fart jokes.
If that’s not amazing grace, people, I don’t know what is.
With Eric, and on that team of musicians, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. I found a safe community where I could be myself and be loved. I found (dare I go there prematurely) shelter.
One week in 2012 Eric introduced a new song to the band’s repertoire – “We Will Follow”, a track off of Jars of Clay’s at-the-time-most-recent album The Shelter. A perpetual bad Christian, I’d never purchased any of Jars of Clay’s music at that point in my life, but after hearing the first words of that song (“In the shadow of the Cross where my first love died…”) I impulsively snagged The Shelter, not totally prepared for how it was going to change me forever.
Before I knew it, I was drinking up the entire record day in and day out. Everything about the musicality – strings, layered vocals, echoing electric guitar riffs, swelling pads – and the lyrics (oh goodness, the lyrics) made me feel safe and protected. A byproduct of my absentee father, I’ve always craved the feeling of security. So listening to this record was something I almost couldn’t stop doing, for fear of never feeling that safety again.
I thought these feelings of belonging were just coincidence. Turns out, they weren’t. While Jars of Clay released it, the record is actually an impressive collaboration of many artists, and a little internet sleuthing will tell you that the songs on The Shelter are actually meant to celebrate (tadaaa) community. It’s a record that thinks in people, I guess you could say.
At the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, things were suddenly shaken up for my family. Not able to make ends meet in Tallahassee, my husband and I were forced to relocate for better jobs that would hopefully provide for us. We were forced to leave our shelter.
We ended up getting jobs in Naples, which is a 7-hour-drive from Tallahassee. I remember when we were down in Naples visiting, and were offered the jobs, just like it were yesterday – I was driving aimlessly on a road in Naples, trying to lull our 10-month-old to sleep, and sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of leaving Eric and our community. I hated the prospect of not belonging again, and even more than that, I hated the idea of us being so far away from the person who promised to be a dad to me. I’d gone so long not having that relationship, and WANTING it, that the thought of losing it was so terrifying to me.
I jammed the auxiliary cable into my iPod, started blaring that devastatingly beautiful title track, and wept. LORD did I weep.
If there is any peace
if there is any hope
We must all believe
our lives are not our own
We all belong
God has given us each other
And we will never walk alone
Fast forward to now:
We have lived in Naples for three years now, and our time here is swiftly coming to an end. We don’t know where we are going when our lease is up in June, but I am happy to report that the relationship I was most concerned about losing when we first moved here has not only been maintained, but also refined and maybe even strengthened. I’ve learned that distance doesn’t equal abandonment and that this community – this shelter – that we’ve built is sturdier than I could have ever imagined.
May this place of rest
In the fold of your journey
Bind you to hope
You will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other
We will live, we will live.